The Surrey Board of Education is hoping to reduce its reliance on portables by 2023.
Surrey school board trustees voted unanimously during the first board meeting of the school year on Sept. 19 to request a meeting with the Minister of Education to discuss a plan to reduce the district’s reliance on portables by 50 per cent within five years.
In a report from the superintendent of schools and CEO Jordan Tinney, he said the school board is asking the ministry to continue to work with the board of education and the capital project office to develop a comprehensive strategic five-year capital plan.
“Such a strategic investment would consider the 7,000 students we already have in portables, and the 5,000 students we will grow in five years. This is the equivalent of constructing an entire school district the size of New Westminster in that time frame and we believe this is achievable with continued co-operation of the Ministry and the City of Surrey who are our key partners,” Tinney said.
Tinney’s report states that as part of the NDP’s election campaign, the party promised “to eliminate all portables in Surrey within four years.” Since then, nine projects have been announced by the provincial government which equals 3,115 seats for students, he said.
“If we completed all nine of the above projects in two years, which would be a highly aggressive and unprecedented schedule, we would have reduced our reliance on portables from our current 345 to 300 (at 25 students/portable). While we would have added 3,115 seats, we also will have grown by 2,000 new students in those two years.”
Tinney said that if the district received $300 million to complete the top 15 projects on the annual capital plan in addition to the nine current projects, it would add about 7,500 seats. He said that even if the 24 projects took five years to complete, “which would be a massive and welcomed undertaking,” the student growth would add 5,000 new students and the district would still require 200 portables.
“The ability to significantly reduce our reliance on portables requires a comprehensive strategic plan along with an extended funding commitment,” he said.
The number of portable classrooms grew again this school year despite École Salish Secondary opening and a 200-seat addition to Woodward Hill Elementary.
Surrey Board of Education vice-chair Terry Allen told the Now-Leader the district now has 333 portables, which includes 14 new ones that have arrived for the beginning of the school year.